Kenilworth’s young people will be able to have their say on what problems they face in the town and their ideas for solutions at a special forum this week.
The Young People's Forum has been organised by Kenilworth mayor Cllr Mike Hitchins and his partner Cathy McCarney after recent drug and knife incidents among some young people in the town.
Cllr Hitchins experienced some of the issues first-hand when he went out into the town with some of the Kenilworth Centre’s detached youth workers.
The forum starts at 7.30pm on Friday October 26 at the Parochial Hall in High Street, and will be led by young people with minimal input from community leaders.
Ahead of the forum, one of the youth workers at the Kenilworth Centre has explained how they try to help young people in the town.
Munjit Rai, along with fellow youth worker Andrea Kinsey, heads out into Kenilworth on Friday nights to where young people like to hang out to offer advice and support if they need it.
He said: “We recognise that some young people will want to socialise away from organised activity and adult supervision. For some it’s a natural part of becoming an adult, but this can include getting involved in some risky behaviours.
“We feel it’s important to maintain a link and address this by meeting these young people in the spaces they choose to inhabit.”
The Kenilworth Centre’s manager Holly Hewitt added: “Detached work differs from outreach work. It’s about being there for young people ‘in the moment’ and supporting whatever needs arise.
“Outreach workers are tasked with encouraging young people to attend activities, while detached workers will only do this if it’s an appropriate suggestion for an individual. This allows trust to develop and the important conversations and support to take place.
“Detached workers are there for the benefit of young people. They give information and support around safe choices, relationships, sexual health and are often approached by young people who just want to talk.”
In light of the recent problems that Cllr Hitchins witnessed, the mayor had criticised the policy of the youth workers calling the police in certain situations.
He said: “They do not engage with the young people - their answer to any problem is to call the police which just moves them to another place.”
But the centre said its workers have to phone the police if they believe there is a threat to safety or if crimes have been committed.
However, Cllr Hitchins had previously said the workers could do with more funding for more staff and hours.
The detached youth workers are funded by Kenilworth Town Council, and its leader Cllr John Cooke encouraged them to apply for more funding at a previous town council meeting.
Holly added: “We recognise that there always has and always will be young people who want to be out in the parks and in town in the evenings, and we will continue to be there for them, ideally more frequently.”